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Pakistan detentions assailed

Watchdog says captures illegal, rewarded by US

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan illegally detained innocent people on suspicion of terrorism, secretly imprisoned them, and transferred them to US custody for money, Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog, said yesterday.

President General Pervez Musharraf, in a memoir released days ago, wrote that his government has earned bounties totaling ``millions of dollars" from the transfer of terror suspects to US authorities.

Hundreds of Pakistanis and foreigners were rounded up in Pakistan on suspicion of links to terrorism since the US-led war on terror started after the Sept. 11 attacks, Amnesty International said in a report titled ``Human Rights Ignored in the War on Terror."

``The war on terror has added a new layer of human rights violations to the existing patterns of abuses" in Pakistan, said Angelika Pathak, an Amnesty International researcher.

``The phenomenon of enforced disappearance was virtually unknown before the war on terror," Pathak said.

Amnesty International suggested the lure of US government rewards led in many cases to the illegal arrests of people, including women and children, in Pakistan.

Pakistan also has its own bounty program that provides money for the capture of suspected terrorists, which the report did not take into consideration.

``Bounty hunters -- including police officers and local people -- have captured individuals of different nationalities, often apparently at random, and sold them into US custody," said Claudio Cordone, senior director of research at Amnesty International.

Tasnim Aslam, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, rejected the report's allegations that Pakistan illegally detained people in exchange for money.

``Whenever we arrest any foreign terror suspect, we try to send him back to the country he belongs" in, she said. ``In most of the cases, such suspects are not accepted by their own government."

Amnesty International's allegations, largely based on interviews with former detainees, were made days after Musharraf disclosed in his memoir that Pakistan captured 689 Al Qaeda suspects and turned over 369 to the United States.

``We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars," Musharraf wrote in his book, ``In The Line of Fire."

Cordone said in a statement that many people detained in Pakistan ended up in secret locations or at US prisons, including Guantanamo Bay and Bagram, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

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